Stock - Wheat
U.S. and European wheat futures dropped sharply on the news. Image Credit: Supplied

Turkey will halt wheat imports from June 21 until at least October 15 to protect farmers from price fluctuations, ensure domestic procurement of raw materials and create a favourable market for producers, the agriculture ministry said.

U.S. and European wheat futures dropped sharply on the news, both falling around 2 per cent with traders fearing Russian exporters would be hit hard by the move, compelling supplies earmarked for Turkey to be sold cheaply in other markets.

Turkey is the world’s fifth largest wheat importer, buying mostly from Russia.

In a statement, Turkey’s agriculture ministry said it would halt imports of wheat until at least Oct. 15 in accordance with foreign trade measures recommended by the Trade Ministry to protect producers, and added other measures would also be taken.

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The measures would be implemented to “prevent our producers from being affected by price decreases due to supply density during the harvest period, to meet the raw material supply required for our exports from domestic production, and to ensure market stability in favour of producers,” it said.

European grain traders feared the import ban would take hold just as Russia’s new harvest this summer was set to enter world markets.

“Russia is likely to be the main loser on this,” a German grain trader said. “Russia supplies somewhere between 60-75 per cent of Turkey’s wheat imports and this ban looks like coming into force just as Russia’s new crop needs to be marketed.” “If Russian wheat cannot be sold in Turkey it will have to be offered elsewhere at low prices, which could mean other importers in the Middle East, Africa and Asia will benefit.” But this could also cut importer demand for European and U.S. wheat, traders said.

On Thursday, the ministry said the Turkish grain board (TMO) had set 2024 crop grain purchase prices for durum wheat, milling wheat and for barley.

The import halt could be extended beyond October 15 depending on “market conditions on that date”, the ministry added.

The Turkish ministry also said the exports of flour from domestically-produced wheat, banned since September 2018, would be allowed, and added barley, milling and durum wheat exports can now be done using a TMO export licence in a “controlled” way.

Turkey is expected to import 12 million metric tons of grain in the 2024/25 season including 8.5 million tons of wheat, according to figures from the International Grains Council.